Fred Fromhold, the attorney representing the site’s owner, Penn Real Estate Group, said the property is part of a tract which starts with the historic Pencoyd Iron Works building to the west and the Aquatics and Fitness Center to the east. Between those buildings sits a couple of post-World War II buildings that would be demolished.
“There is a proposal that we have … that we combine these properties … continue to preserve the historic building where Penn Real Estate’s business offices are located and there would be two new hotels that are contemplated on the adjoining property. The hotel will also have custom-made, bespoke furniture to make the interior look elegant,” Fromhold told members of the Lower Merion Historic Commission at a recent meeting. The fitness club will remain on the site and still has a long-term lease, he said. According to Fromhold, under the township’s subdivision and land development code the development should be sensitive to the historic nature of the site.
“We believe that this project very much accomplishes that,” Fromhold said.
Another aspect of the overall plans for the area is for a public space.
“We really want to create a pedestrian square right in front of our office,” said Stephen Gibson of Penn Realty. This space would then connect to the cafe they are planning. “We hope to bring activity to that location, especially with the trail users and trail access,” Gibson said of a plan to link to the Cynwyd Heritage Trail.
Fromhold said the plans likely won’t go to the township’s Planning Commission until at least September or October. The next step is for the application to go before the Lower Merion Zoning and Hearing Board. That meeting is scheduled for July 28 at 7:15 p.m. at the Lower Merion Township Building.